Wednesday, May 15, 2013

PEC - Prince Edward County

Shot taken at Lake on the Mountain. Absolutely stunning views, which will, we are sure, be hundreds of times nicer now that the foliage is green and lush! *swoon*
What if I told you there was a magical place where you can feast on amazing local food and wine, enjoy natural beauty and amazing landscapes and tuck in and out of small, home based studios and workshops talking to local artists and seeing their creations? What if I told you this place did exist, it was an island and it is in Ontario? Prince Edward County is a perfect oasis of wine, art, nature, amazing food and a population of 25,000 very friendly people who are always ready to talk to a visitor and ask “do you have a map?”
heathy snacks to keep the car trip fresh, most pit stop snacks are pretty bad - but not the food in PEC!
Recently, we seized an opportunity to spend two days in Prince Edward County in early spring. It is a perfect road trip drive (not too long or short) and easily accessible from Toronto, Kingston and Ottawa. As we travelled on a Monday morning and the busy summer season had not yet started, it felt like we had the island all to ourselves, which we wouldn’t have any other way.

image taken from > devilswishbone
The county has a mild climate because of Lake Ontario’s influence, which has resulted in the establishment of 34 wineries as of 2012. The area has many organic farms and innovative local chefs and has become a top culinary destination called “the gastronomic capital of Ontario”.

Constellation by Dale Dunning
Wine started as the main reason for our visit, but as we made our way through the idyllic country roads which wind through historic towns and villages, we noticed many artists’ studios, galleries and antique shops which dotted the shorelines of Lake Ontario and the Bay of Quinte. We discovered that we were following the Prince Edward County arts trail ( and realized that art was also a major part of Prince Edward County life. The 2013 trail includes 25 artist galleries and studios. Just look for these road signs >
Catherine Vamvakas Lay  Pomegranate Seeds Nestled on Bronze
The place we stayed – Huff Estates - was the perfect combination of wine and art as the inn was located on beautiful grounds which also included a winery and the impressive Oeno Gallery (, which exhibits contemporary art by artists from the region, other parts of Canada and occasionally, exceptional international artists. The gallery is spacious and light filled and includes both sculptures and paintings.

Christopher langstroth – Late Afternoon
We spent a lot of time in the gallery and also the outside sculpture garden which extends to the edge of the vineyard and is the perfect place to walk and linger at sunset after a day of sampling wine and eating great food. 
The sunset lighting made for really fantastic pictures please enjoy the following:

Shayne Dark – Tangle Wood
Floyd Elzinga – Hickory Leaf
Rick Lapointe - Arbusto
Mark Clark – Positive Moves
Clare Scott Taggart - Crow
You cannot leave Prince Edward County without also visiting the towns of Bloomfield and Picton and doing some window shopping. The true spirit of Prince Edward County was captured when we stepped in to the Rose Haven Farm Store in Picton. (
my favorite score, was a last second (they just got in and barely inventoried) grab of  'yarn' made of recycled sari's.
Silk! and upcycled! omygosh yes please - it's that beautiful green in the top left corner
The great display window of the specialty yarn shop caught our eye and drew us into the shop. Inside, you will find all types of yarns from around the world along with books, patterns, knitting and crochet supplies and a large lower area for clearance yarns and occasional workshops. The best part of the shop was Linda Swaine’s charm, friendliness and encyclopaedic knowledge of her own products and the local arts and crafts scene in Prince Edward County and other parts of Ontario. She gave Karen a complete tour of the store, answered all of her questions, and was genuinely interested in finding out more about Karen’s own work and about Freedom.

She was an enthusiastic ball of energy and, I have to admit, I couldn’t even keep up with her and ended up taking advantage of the comfortable chairs (for men!).

in the wee distance you could see the two women painstakingly up-keeping all the hundreds of houses
We finished our day with some nature and on a trip to Lake on the Mountain (a beautiful natural site), we encountered the whimshical Bird House City just outside Picton. Located in the beautiful Macaulay Mountain Conservation area, it includes over 100 handmade birdhouses, most of them reproductions of historic buildings in the area. The city was started by a dedicated former superintendent of the Prince Edward Region Conservation and is now a community involvement project as numerous schools, businesses and individuals helped create the birdhouses that are there now since 1980. There is an active group of volunteers who maintain the city. As we walked through, we admired the patience of two of these volunteers as they worked from house to house carrying out any necessary repairs and maintenance.
these picture don't grasp the magnitude of this place, you keep walking
 and up pops another row of houses, very hard to chose a favourite
We would definitely recommend Prince Edward County as a quick escape, short stay or maybe even permanent visit. The beautiful natural landscape, the friendly people and the constant presence of culture make it very tempting.